Since the children were born at 28 weeks and 6 days they had to be in the NICU for a couple of months. The first few weeks are a blur since I was so ill with an infection in my uterus. All four were off intubation within 24 hours and were able to go to high flow nasal canals. Which we were told was excellent! All three of the boys had meds for their hematocrit early one. Elizabeth did not need it until a later on which dropped her other count and wore her out and stalled her bottles. Since Elizabeth was ruptured and I had an infection they continually checked her for it. They did give them all meds to counteract just in case and it turned out she had it but the meds had taken care of it. They each were under the bilirubin lights for a day or two. They were given caffeine to help keep them alert, which helps them to remember to breath. They had NG tubes to provide their nutrients. They were given formula because try to produce milk was making me weak to fight the infection plus I was not getting much at all. They were considered feeders and growers, which meant they were doing well and just needed to learn to take 8 bottles a day and fatten up. We were allowed to help with everything while they were there which was great and they helped Randy to become accustomed to handling babies.
We were able to hold them by the end of the first week, which we loved but so did they! They were very social from the get go. The nurses and doctors said that is not always the case because preemies need their energy to breath and grow. All four of them were cuddlers from the first day we held them. It is funny because they were already beginning to social and understand some things while they were there. I recall one evening we were ready to hold Zachary and the nurse was getting ready to do something with him. So she asked us to wait until she was done with that. Which was fine…but he heard us and was very upset that we were not holding him that instant! I remember when they began to introduce oral stimulation which was the first step of beginning bottle feeding and each of them took differently to it. Once they were doing well with that they began to introduce bottles. It was always one bottle and their goal was to drink in under 30 minutes, because at that point they are burning more than they are eating. If they were able to do that for a few times they added another bottle later in the day. Once they hit four feeds it was every other feed was a bottle and the others were NG feeds. At this point they were learning to pull out their NG tubs and their nasal cannulas. Which was always funny and sad. It was so funny to watch them be proud that they did it and then they were so mad they had to go back in!
Cameron came off his nasal cannula on April 17th. Elizabeth and Matthew came off theirs on May 5th. Zachary did not want to give his up and finally gave it up on May 21st. Which meant we were able to start holding two at a time! May 6th we were able to carry everyone over to Zachary’s giraffe and I held all four of them together for the very first time!
May 14th they were co bedded in open air cribs!
Once they began to add the fifth and sixth bottles it wore them out more. Cameron was cruising right along and Matthew decided to rip his NG tube out when he was just getting ready to try 7 bottles. So they tried him at 8 and he was able to come home with Cameron on June 2nd.
Like I mentioned earlier Elizabeth received the meds for her hematocrit later…it was around this time. She was actually doing so well they thought she might come home with Cameron, but the meds dropped her other blood cell count and she began to not do as well on her bottles. So we could have had 3 home at once. She began to gain her energy back and pulled her NG tube out on her 7th bottle and came home on June 15th.
Zachary had been moving slowly but surely on his feedings. We thought he would be a day or two behind his sister, but we were told he was not eating enough for them. Which we thought was strange because he always ate well for us and his primary care nurse. We were struggling going back and forth to see him and take care of the three at home. Thank God for family! Randy’s mom moved in with us the day Cameron and Matthew came home. (She stayed for the first 6 months) We could have not done it without her help or my mom and dad! At a visit shortly after Elizabeth had come home we saw that Zachary was not being fed side lying. This was very concerning because you can not feed a premature baby lying on their back because it can increase their risk for bradycardia. He also was not eating well that way. This was a sub nurse and he had been eating for 20 minutes at this time and not taken much at all. I took over and he finished the rest of his feeding and then some! We decided then and there to get him home we would have to be there for every one of his feeds! Lets just say the staff was shocked he was drinking more than he had to in under 15 minutes when we took over. 24 hours later he was released! Zachary finally came home June 20th. It was also hard because you could tell he was not being stimulated like before when his sister was with him. He had also been moved to over flow because all they were working on was his feedings. There was no room for him to keep his bouncy seat and he was getting bored.
Of course they had their share of bradycardia (forgetting to breath), but they came home with no equipment. They had not had any for at least 2 days by the time any of them came home. They were all checked every two weeks for ROP. Elizabeth took until that summer to be cleared. Their eye sight is fine! All four of them had an opening in their belly button. It was the urachus tube. Which the doctors said can even be open on a full term infant, it is just not the most common thing. We discovered it because Zachary’s was draining. So they checked all of them and they all were open. We were told that brain bleeds were a possibility, but did not have any issues with it. Their hearts and their digestive tracks were fine. They had not blood transfusions. They had no surgeries either. They were all above their birth weight by day four! We thank God everyday for our miracles and that we had four feed and grow babies!
I do want to say that we have never treated our children like preemies. I have always believed that what you expect of a child is what they will do. This has to come from my education background. We have always expected them and treated them as if they were full term. Of course this also is due to the fact that when they came home from the NICU they were already doing things 3 month olds should do. They truly have never been behind. PAT has always used their age and are so pleased they are doing so well. MO First Steps came out and even said they did not qualify. Of course they each have their own pace and we respect that! But we also nurture and scaffold them to higher levels! We truly have been blessed with four beautiful and healthy children!